We’ve been hosting Autumn wine tastings for the Oxford and Cambridge colleges for many moons. On my very first venture to Oxford 10 years ago with Robin (Yapp), no sooner had we set up the tasting in preparation for the arrival of the dons than he rushed me off to the Covered Market to seek out the excellent gamebutchers, Hedges. Our business there concluded, we hot-footed it back towards Wadham for 11.30 with a brief detour via The White Horse in Broad Street for a couple of pre-tasting pints of Greene King IPA. As an introduction in how to approach a wine tasting at this fine seat of learning, it took some beating.

So as the temperature dropped at the end of September and our green and pleasant land exploded in vivid russet and orange, my thoughts invariably turned to Messrs Hedges and the Covered Market.  This year, I plumped for a couple of grouse, a brace of pheasants and multiple partridge. “You like game, then?” Hedges Junior enquired, unnecessarily I have to say. Back at the tasting, via a coffee shop rather than The White Horse (in case my wife reads this), I had my eye on several bottles that I thought might not get consumed during the duration. This is a discreet perk of all wine tastings, how else can one afford to drink on the wages of this industry? So my grouse was preceded by white Chateauneuf-du-Pape Vieux Donjon 2008 and perfectly accompanied by Cornas Clape 2006.